Chatting over Chai

I have just arrived back to my occasional perch at Portsmouth Museum after a lovely couple of hours with the Chat Over Chai group at the Havelock Community Centre.I have now delivered 8 talks to over 50s groups across Portsmouth in the last year. Each time, I talk about Milton Locks, touching on its history, its wildlife and the community engagement work taking place through the Milton’s Hidden Seashore project. I always leave plenty of time for questions and discussion and my favourite part is usually hearing about other people’s memories of their earliest experiences of nature. I have heard some hilarious anecdotes over the years; frog spawn in teapots, shore crabs escaping on buses, that sort of thing. All these stories, some rib tickling, others sad, capture my imagination, draw me in and teach me so much about the spectrum wildlife experiences enjoyed by different people I have met. It is magnificent to watch people’s faces change as recall childhood adventures and discoveries.

Today’s group were certainly no exception. The exciting thing about the Chat Over Chai group was that, for many of the members, their early encounters with nature took place a long way from Portsmouth. One lady spoke about fear associated with crossing bamboo bridges. Another recalled tree climbing and sailing home-made boats in Bangladesh. By a wonderful coincidence, we also sail mini boats at Milton Locks. The picture below is from an event where we did just that.

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Families at Locked in the Past, a story-telling event at Milton Locks as part of the Milton’s Hidden Seashore event on 29th July 2016, taken by Lianne de Mello.

If you have an early memory of wildlife or outdoor play, why not share it with Friends of Milton Locks. You could comment on this post or email jess.parsons@hiwwt.org.uk . I’d be delighted to hear from you.

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More photos from last week’s adventures and another invitation

Katy Seaman, one of our education volunteers and local mum has sent me a couple of photos of last week’s Go Wild event to share on the Friends of Milton Locks blog. Her family are expertly demonstrating some of the activities that were on offer. Lots of the work I deliver at Milton Locks is aimed at building parents’ confidence to take their children outdoors to play. It looks as though Dad, Gregg, is enjoying himself just as much as the children. Hopefully this will inspire more people to get out there and spend time with nature as the weather becomes kinder.

Gregg and Eliza by Katy SeamanSeaman family at Go Wild Katy Seaman

Today is an entirely different kettle-o-fish. I’m at Portsmouth Museum preparing for our Memories of Milton Locks oral history session. Between 2 and 4:30pm this afternoon, we are inviting people to pop in and share tales and photographs of the past at Milton Locks. The event is linked to the extraordinary Edward King exhibition in the Museum and promises to be an interesting and nostalgic event. If you remember Milton Locks in days gone by, why not pop in and see us. It will be quite a novelty for me to be working inside a building. I’ll have to remember to use my ‘indoor voice’ as parents and teachers often call it.